Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller picked up his first-ever 5-star recruit on September 19, when a Top 25 combo guard named Josiah Turner made up his mind to play for the Wildcats.
He was the prize catch of the 2011 recruiting class and the player expected to be a key piece to Miller’s rebuilding project at Arizona.
Now Miller has to wonder if he’s going to be able to keep him. Or, better yet, whether he’s going to want to keep him.
It looks like Josiah Turner is still planning on coming to play for the Wildcats next year. But, based on the bizarre roller-coaster ride he is taking through his senior year, those plans could change in a heart beat.
Or if his mother decides to move on to a new game plan.
That’s what happened a couple of weeks ago, when Doris Ward told Turner’s coach at Sacramento High School that her son would be leaving the school in the middle of the season. She reportedly told Coach Derek Swafford that “the family wants to go another way.”
No reason why. He’s just leaving.
Now, this isn’t the first time the family has picked up stakes and moved on. He played basketball as a freshman at Cordova High School, then transferred to Sacramento High his sophomore year. Then he tried to jump to Sheldon High School and lasted just eight days there before the state governing body wouldn’t clear him to play basketball at that school, so he returned to Sacramento High for his junior year and averaged 28 points a game.
He started again this year as the Dragons’ point guard and was averaging just over 22 points a game as Sacramento was trying to repeat as Northern California D-III champions.
The 6’3″ Sacramento Bee Player of the Year appeared to be enjoying his senior year and was the team’s leading scorer over the first 10 games.
But one report says that someone in the Turner camp wasn’t happy with the fact that his scoring average this year was some five points a game below last year, and attributed that to his removal early from those games in which the Dragons were blowing out their opponent.
The suspected fly in the ointment was Mama Ward.
If true, that would have to give Miller and his staff at Arizona pause to reflect. Why would Turner or his mother care about his stats this year if he has already picked his college and no longer needs to impress the recruiters?
So now the traveling circus has left California and the young man is now enrolling in a North Carolina school called Quality Education Academy. He will be eligible to step onto the floor right away for the national prep school’s basketball team.
It should come as no surprise that Turner’s new school is another basketball powerhouse, with a roster loaded with kids from all over the country. The Fighting Pharoahs (seriously, that’s their mascot name) are 17-2 and ranked No. 16 in the nation by ESPN/Rise.
But the instability of the last four years is just part of the sorry picture for a kid that has been compared to NBA great, Kevin Johnson, who also played at Sacramento High School and became the city’s mayor.
More disturbing is the issue of his eventual dismissal from the Sacramento team by Coach Swafford. The coach initially offered to try to resolve the issues and keep Turner on the team, but wound up dropping him from the team for “violating athletic rules and regulations and team rules and regulations.”
No college coach wants to hear that about his star recruit.
Evidently, Turner has missed games and practices without permission, even before the upheaval of the last couple of weeks, when he missed a conference rivalry game and told his coach afterward it was for “family reasons.”
When he missed the following practice, it signaled the end of the road with the Dragons.
If Turner is still planning on keeping his commitment to University of Arizona, he will be rolling into Tucson with some extra baggage and with a dark cloud over his head.
But by that time, the welcome mat may have already been pulled.